Summer Reading Support for Oklahoma

Author friends… Many of you have donated to the Red Cross and/or donated signed books for our KidLitCares for Oklahoma donation drive, so first of all…thanks!  Some of you also wanted to know about sending books to Oklahoma to help libraries and schools affectd by the recent EF5 tornado. Here’s an update on that.

Aerial view of damage – photo via OK National Guard

The Moore Public Library was very close to the storm’s path but was not damaged, which means the library is an amazing resource and sanctuary for displaced families right now. They say they do not need books for the library at this point, but they would LOVE to have some signed books to give away to kids enrolled in their summer reading program. There is not a need for used books or large-scale donations  but if any author/illustrator friends would like to send a signed book or two, perhaps with a quick message of hope and support, that would be welcome and wonderful. I’m sending along signed copies of HIDE AND SEEK and SUGAR AND ICE.

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The Pioneer Library System will collect the books & drive them to Moore to be put directly into kids’ hands. Any extra books will be shared with teachers who need to replenish their classroom libraries.

Here’s the address:

Pioneer Library System
Attn: Kate Lyon
1210 McGee Drive
Norman, OK 73072
 
Again – this is an invitation for authors & illustrators to send signed books that you’d like to see distributed to kids in the Summer Reading Program. Please do NOT send boxes of used books or other large-scale donations at this time. If there’s a need for that down the road (and there may well be as schools prepare to rebuild), that will be a separate effort.

Let’s help… KidLitCares for Oklahoma

Yesterday, while I was talking about books and writing with an amazing group of 4th and 5th graders in Western New York, another group of elementary school students took shelter in their school, clinging to walls, huddling in the protective arms of their teachers as a tornado swept through their city. Later on, I saw the rescue crews on the news, and my heart ached for all of those families.

I spent time in the Oklahoma City area when I was researching my weather thriller, Eye of the Storm, and the people were so welcoming and wonderful. Those of us who weren’t in the storm’s path may be in a position to help now. So here’s a chance to do that.

Instead of pulling together an auction like we did to benefit the SuperStorm Sandy KidLitCares relief effort, I thought we’d try something faster, because Oklahoma needs help right now, given the magnitude of damage from this week’s EF5 tornado. Please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Effort now. If you donate at least $10, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a signed book.

I’m donating some of my books, and some other authors are doing the same – not because a book giveaway is the real reason to make this donation but because it’s a way for the children’s literature community to promote the effort and say thanks to those who decide to donate. I’m hoping that we can also donate signed books to the library system that serves families affected by the tornado, either to add to their collections or to distribute to displaced families. More on that when things settle down some…but here’s the KidLitCares Donation Drive information.

To be entered in the KidLitCares for Oklahoma Book Giveaway:

Click here and make a donation of at least $10 for  American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Ideally, you’ll do this now. Like, right now. But if you want to be entered for the book drawing, be sure to do it before 12pm EST on June 7th.  I’ll enter your name in the drawing once for each $10 you donate. So a $50 donation equals five chances to win.

You’ll receive an email receipt from the Red Cross.  Forward that receipt to kidlitcares@gmail.com, and you’ll automatically be entered in the drawing for one of our donated signed books!  You can see an ever-updating list of donated signed books below!

On June 7th, I’ll draw names for as many books as we have donated. I’ll contact you via email if you win so that you can provide a mailing address for the author to mail your signed book. Because our authors are donating postage, books can be mailed to US addresses only. (Sorry!) Again – the deadline is 12pm EST on June 7th.

 

***NEWSFLASH 5/22 2pm : We’ve just had a MEGA-DONATION FOR A GRAND-PRIZE GIVEAWAY!!

One of my amazing publishers, Chronicle Books, has just donated TWO great big prize packages for KidLitCares for Oklahoma Red Cross donors. One is a collection of great Chronicle YA titles, and the other is a spectacular picture book package. So here’s what we’re going to do…

Whoever makes the LARGEST Red Cross donation via KidLitCares before noon EST on June 7th will get to choose one of these two packages as a thank you gift.  The other package will be given to one of our $10 or more donors, chosen in a random drawing. That way, there’s incentive to give BIG if you can – as well as incentive to give whatever you can, even if your heart is bigger than your wallet. 🙂  Check out these great titles…

Chronicle Books YA Books KidLitCares Thank You Package

PRISONERS IN THE PALACE by Michaela MacColl
GIRL MEETS BOY by Kelly Milner Halls
THE SPACE BETWEEN TREES by Katie Williams
THE ORPHAN OF AWKWARD FALLS by Keith Graves
 

Chronicle Books PICTURE BOOKS KidLit Cares Thank You Package

HIS SHOES WERE FAR TOO TIGHT by Daniel Pinkwater and Calef Brown

WUMBERS by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
BEARS! BEARS! BEARS!  by Bob Barner
IT’S A TIGER by David LaRochelle and Jeremy Tankard
AN EGG IS QUIET by Dianna Aston and Sylvia Long
DUCK! RABBIT! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO by Molly Idle
CHLOE INSTEAD by Micah Player
 
Update: 5/24 – Another Mega-Donation from Boyds Mills Press – this will be given away as another grand prize in our drawing!
 
WORDSONG Book Basket from Boyds Mills Press
 
Cowboys by David L. Harrison
Bug Off by Jane Yolen
Running with Trains by Michael J. Rosen
If You Were a Chocolate Mustache by J. Patrick Lewis
Grumbles from the Forest by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Jane Yolen
Face Bug by J. Patrick Lewis
 

Please donate – and  help us spread the word about KidLitCares for Oklahoma by sharing this link on Twitter, Facebook and wherever else you have friends!

https://www.katemessner.com/lets-help-kidlitcares-for-oklahoma/

 

Here’s the list of books that have already been donated and will be given away on June 7th…

(It will grow…and I will try my best to keep up with it…please be patient! New books will be added daily.)

HIDE AND SEEK by Kate Messner

WAKE UP MISSING by Kate Messner

THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS by Jacqueline Houtman

SIRENS by Janet Fox

BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX by Laurel Snyder

PASSING THE MUSIC DOWN by Sarah Sullivan

SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE by Joanne Levy

1 ZANY ZOO by Lori Degman

THE GENTLEMAN BUG by Julian Hector

TRADING FACES by Julie DeVillers and Jennifer Roy

BEDEVILED: DADDY’S LITTLE ANGEL by Shani Petroff

HOUNDS: LOYAL HUNTING COMPANIONS by Becky Levine

THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY by Nikki Loftin

SPLISH SPLASH! by Naomi Davis

COUNTING ON GRACE by Elizabeth Winthrop

THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES by Jody Feldman

PRINCESS OF THE WILD SWANS by Diane Zahler

FLUTTER by Gina Linko

WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT by Brianna Caplan Sayres

THE WIG IN THE WINDOW by Kristen Kittscher

I DARE YOU NOT TO YAWN! by Helene Boudreau

THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING by Linda Urban

SEE YOU AT HARRY’S by Jo Knowles

CANARY IN THE COAL MINE by Madelyn Rosenberg

NO SAFETY IN NUMBERS by Dayna Lorentz

HOPE IN PATIENCE by Beth Fehlbaum

COWBOY CAMP by Tammi Sauer

THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN OKLAHOMA by Tammi Sauer

NUGGET AND FANG by Tammi Sauer

THE WATER CASTLE by Megan Frazer Blakemore

ONE FOR THE MURPHYS by Linda Mullaly Hunt

WANT TO GO PRIVATE by Sarah Darer Littman

LIFE, AFTER by Sarah Darer Littman

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE POWER OF POSITIVE by Sarah Darer Littman

THE UNQUIET by Jeannine Garsee

SAY THE WORD by Jeannine Garsee

BEYOND LUCKY by Sarah Aronson

I’M BORED by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

THOUSAND WORDS by Jennifer Brown

MADHATTAN MYSTERY by John J. Bonk

THE FLINT HEART by Katherine Paterson (signed by Katherine Paterson & John Rocco, donated by Anne Moore)

TEACH YOUR BUFFALO TO PLAY DRUMS by Audrey Vernick

THE UNIVERSE OF FAIR by Leslie Bulion

BROTHERS AT BAT: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMAZING ALL-BROTHER BASEBALL TEAM  by Audrey Vernick

SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield

STAINED (ARC) by Cheryl Rainfield

PHANTOM STALLION: THE WILD ONE by Terri Farley

THE CAMPING TRIP THAT CHANGED AMERICA by Barb Rosenstock

FEARLESS by Barb Rosenstock

THE SWEETEST THING by Christina Mandelski

BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman

THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST by Sarvenaz Tash

NEVER EIGHTEEN by Megan Bostic

MELONHEAD AND THE BIG STINK by Katy Kelly

FOREST HAS A SONG by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

COMPLETE set of CHARLIE JOE JACKSON book!! by Tommy Greenwald

THE SMALL ADVENTURES OF POPEYE AND ELVIS by Barbara O’Connor

ETERNAL by Cynthia Leitich Smith

CHRONAL ENGINE by Greg Leitich Smith

THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA by Ellis Weiner

IF IT’S NO TROUBLE…A BIG POLAR BEAR by Lisa Dalrymple

GLORY BE by Augusta Scattergood

WHY KIMBA SAVED THE WORLD by Meg Dendler

MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD by Tameka Fryer Brown

HOW MARTHA SAVED HER PARENTS FROM GREEN BEANS by David LaRochelle

ME AND MEOW by Adam Gudeon

NOBODY’S SECRET by Michaela MacColl

DOUBLE VISION by F.T. Bradley

BOOKS 1-3 in the JAGUAR STONES series by J and P Voelkel

THESE SEAS COUNT by Alison Formento

MERELY DEE by Marian Cheatham

AUDITION AND SUBTRACTION by Amy Fellner Dominy

BIG SLICK by Eric Luper

WILD THINGS by Clay Carmichael

BROTHER, BROTHER (ARC) by Clay Carmichael

GONE FISHING: A NOVEL IN VERSE by Tamera Will Wissinger

WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN by Jodi Moore

GOOD NEWS NELSON by Jodi Moore

ABSENT by Katie Williams

THE REVENANT by Sonia Gensler

OUT OF NOWHERE by Maria Padian

ISABELLA, STAR OF THE STORY by Jennifer Fosberry

WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP by JoAnn Early Macken

WAITING OUT THE STORM by JoAnn Early Macken

KEEPER by Kathi Appelt

TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP by Kathi Appelt

MISS LADY BIRD’S WILDFLOWERS by Kathi Appelt

PICKLE by Kim Baker

THE 13TH SIGN by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb

SELLING HOPE by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb

AUTUMN WINIFRED OLIVER DOES THINGS DIFFERENT by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb

FREEDOM’S FIRE by Elizabeth Falk

THE RED UMBRELLA by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

A THUNDEROUS WHISPER by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

THE BARFTASTIC LIFE OF LOUIE BURGER by Jenny Meyerhoff

SAMI’S SLEEPAWAY SUMMER by Jenny  Meyerhoff

GIVE UP THE GHOST by Megan Crewe

THE WAY WE FALL by Megan Crewe

AFTER ELI by Rebecca Rupp

THE DRAGON OF LONELY ISLAND by Rebecca Rupp

POOP HAPPENED by Sarah Albee

SECRETS AND SHADOWS by Shannon Delany

WEATHER WITCH (ARC w/ author notations & hand-crafted bookmark!) by Shannon Delany

OPEN THIS LITTLE BOOK by Jesse Klausmeier

FAIRY BELL SISTERS 1 & 2 by Julia Denos

CALL ME OKLAHOMA by Miriam Glassman

DO PRINCESSES WEAR HIKING BOOTS? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

DO PRINCESSES REALLY KISS FROGS? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

DO PRINCESSES SCRAPE THEIR KNEES by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

DO PRINCESSES HAVE BEST FRIENDS FOREVER? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

THANK YOU, AUNT TALLULAH! by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

DO SUPER HEROES HAVE TEDDY BEARS? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

THE THING ABOUT GEORGIE by Lisa Graff

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUNNY! by Liz Garton Scanlon

THE HUMMING ROOM by Ellen Potter

THE KNEEBONE BOY by Ellen Potter

MUSTACHE BABY by Bridget Heos

BEASTLY FEASTS by Robert L. Forbes

LET’S HAVE A BITE! by Robert L. Forbes

BEAST FRIENDS FOREVER by Robert L. Forbes

HEAVENLY by Jennifer Laurens

OVERPROTECTED by Jennifer Laurens

MAGIC HANDS by Jennifer Laurens

ONCE UPON A TOAD by Heather Vogel Frederick

GOLDIE LOCKS HAS CHICKEN POX and LITTLE BO PEEP CAN’T GET TO SLEEP by Erin Dealey

CANTA, RANA, CANTA/SING, FROGGIE, SING by Carolyn Flores

DEVIANTS and COMPLIANCE (Dust Chronicles 1 & 2) by Maureen McGowan

Thank you: An Open Letter to Sharon Creech

Dear Ms. Creech,

This is a thank you note mixed with a confession. Read on, and you’ll understand.

First, I have to say that I loved your talk at the New England SCBWI Conference and was thrilled to finally meet you in person.

So thank you for that. But that’s only part of the thank you.  Before I get to the rest, I have to do the confession part.

So…you know that poem you have on your website? The one that explains to teachers why you can’t accept any more invitations for school visits this year?  It starts like this:

My phone is ringing

and the fax is going
and sometimes I am sick

(I hope you are not sick!)
and my car needs fixing

and I have to go
to the grocery store
and do the laundry

and clean up messes
and I am supposed to be
writing a new book
which takes a lot of time
to think about and
to write all those little words…
 

(The rest of Sharon’s why-I-can’t-visit poem  is here,  for those of you who are not Sharon and don’t know how it goes.)

You might not remember this, but a whole bunch of years ago – maybe nine or ten – you got an email from a teacher begging you to requesting that you consider making an exception to your no-more-school-visits-this-year policy.  It was written as a poem, too, because she thought you might like that, and she figured it was worth a try.  She doesn’t have that exact poem any more, but it went something like this.

We know that you are busy
Answering your phone
And buying food
and doing laundry
and sneezing
(Bless you)
And writing books we adore..
But we love-love-love those books so much
And wondered if you might sneak away
To visit us anyway.
It would just be for a day,
And then you could go back
To your grocery-shopping
Laundry-doing, phone answering, sneezing life
(Bless you)
To write more magical stories
For us all to love.
 

That teacher figured it was a long shot. (She used to be a reporter and understood all about deadlines.) But your poem inspired her poem, just like that, and before she knew it, she’d gone and hit the send button.

Your schedule was too busy to visit.  (She figured it would be.) But you made time to write back. You told her you loved her poem, that it made you smile.

And that made her whole teacher-day.

That teacher was me.

And that explains why I had to sit down when you tweeted this picture last week, saying you found your book in good company at the bookstore.  There’s your book on the left, and beside it, Grace Lin’s book, and then mine. Roald Dahl and Karen Cushman are there, too, just for good measure.

 SharonPhoto

Thanks for making my day.   Again.

Vermont’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Conference 2013

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to be one of the two keynote speakers for Vermont’s annual Dorothy Canfield Fisher Conference, a full day celebration of books and reading.  When this invitation landed in my email a while back, I have to admit that I did a little happy-dance. First, because Vermont teachers and librarians are some of the nicest, funniest, most dedicated people you’ll ever meet.  And second, because the other keynote speaker was Barbara O’Connor.  I left home at the crack of dawn so I’d arrive in time for Barbara’s morning talk, and it was so worth it. She talked about realistic fiction for kids. How real should it be?  Barbara’s keynote was funny and thoughtful and got me thinking about my own writing, too.

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Barbara and I have chatted back and forth on Twitter and Facebook for years, but this was the first time we’d ever met in person, unless you count 20 seconds on an escalator once.  I was at a big conference –NCTE or IRA or something like that — and heading up the escalator to one of my sessions, when I saw Barbara on the other side of the railing on the down escalator. “Barbara, hi!” I called and waved wildly in the way that only true author-stalkers wave.  Barbara waved back and said hi but now claims to have no recollection of this. So we’ve decided to call this our first meeting.

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One of my favorite things about this conference is the number of kids who are invited to present sessions alongside their teachers and librarians.  I was sad that I didn’t get to sit in on all their sessions, but I did catch a glimpse of some Camels Hump Middle School students giving book talks to tables full of teachers and librarians. They all handled themselves so beautifully, and it was clear that when you love books, there really are no age boundaries. We’re all just book people.

Another happy conference moment came when I had time to look through the books on next year’s DCF List. That’s Vermont’s Children’s Choice Award, and the nominations this year include many of my favorite titles from 2013.  Seeing friends’ books on display at a conference is always fun — like spotting the actual friends through a crowd of people — so I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.

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Many thanks, Vermont teachers and librarians, for such a wonderful, warm welcome at this year’s DCF conference. I loved spending the day celebrating stories with all of you!

Busy-Day Crockpot Turkey Stew, especially for writers & teachers

I’m not a big recipe-sharing person online, but today is one of those days…  In a little while, I’m giving a Skype historical fiction writing workshop for a school in Vermont, and later I have a virtual author visit with 2nd graders in Ohio. I’m on deadline for a new book that I’ll be working on, and the kids have after-school activities that will have them eating dinner at all hours. It’s a Busy-Day Crockpot Turkey Stew kind of day.

This is one of my go-to recipes when I’m busy at home or heading out of town for an author visit in the morning and want to have dinner ready for the family later on. It’s hearty and super-quick — about ten minutes prep time — and makes a big batch.

I know a lot of my blog readers are also busy writers, teachers, librarians, and moms, so I thought I’d share.  The directions are simple:

THROW ALL OF THESE THINGS INTO YOUR BIG CROCK POT:

5 or 6 turkey breast cutlets, cut into chunks

2 packages of potato gnocchi (I use this kind…but you can use whatever you like)

64 ounces of chicken broth (I use two of these, but again…whatever)

A bunch of chopped garlic (2 tablespoons or more if you love garlic)

About a cup of chopped onions

Half a package of frozen corn

Half a package of frozen peas

Half a package of those matchsticks-cut carrots

A couple good handfuls of dried cranberries

Give it all a good stir. It will look kind of like this…

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Set your crock pot for 7.5 – 8 hours on low. Go write your books or teach your students or whatever else you need to do.  The starch in the gnocchi will make a lovely, thick stew while you’re off doing interesting things. Serve it with some salad and a crusty loaf of bread, and dinner’s good to go.  This is my big, mom’s-probably-out-of-town-for-two-days batch.  If you have a smaller crock pot or don’t want leftovers, just split everything on the ingredients list in half.

Thank you, New England SCBWI Friends!

I spent this weekend at the New England SCBWI Conference, which is always an amazing opportunity to talk writing and learn about craft as well as a chance to see so many friends. This was the first regional SCBWI Conference I attended back in 2007, and I so remember working up the courage to say hello to Jo Knowles and Loree Griffin Burns, both of whom I recognized from their blogs. Now, I’m lucky enough to count both as friends, along with so many other amazing writers whose company I enjoyed this weekend. If you’ve never been to a writing conference but want to give one a try, I highly recommend this one.

A highlight this year was getting to clap for Jo when she accepted her 2012 Crystal Kite Award for PEARL.  I was sitting in the back, so Jo is tiny in this photo, but I promise you, she’s there, and she’s smiling.

 

I presented two workshops at this year’s conference – one on revision and one on mystery writing. Here are the fantastic writers who attended my revision workshop, hard at work…

And here are a couple of them in a more active writing activity, an emotional role-play that we used to replace cliched body language.

We talked about using maps, timelines, and charts as revision tools. After the session, Michelle Cusolito came by my signing table to show me the timeline she was using to keep track of events in her novel-in-progress.  Michelle and I share a deep and abiding love for really big paper…

 I had a few people waiting with books when I arrived for the author signing, so I dug out my pens and got right to work. I kept wanting to say hello to Dawn Metcalf and Hazel Mitchell and see what they were doodling on their tablecloth at the next table over.  But every time I started to get up, someone else came with a book. Finally, I got to see their masterpiece — a fantastical interpretation of…my signing line, complete with a wild array of characters holding books!

 

Above: Hazel & Dawn with their masterpiece!

I promised to share my workshop slideshows here so attendees could reference them later on. (If you weren’t at my sessions but want to check these out, feel free. You’ll just have to make up my words and imagine me next to the screen, talking and waving my hands around enthusiastically.)  Here’s REAL REVISION, and here’s WHODUNNIT…AND HOW TO DO IT WHEN IT COMES TO WRITING MYSTERIES FOR KIDS.

Many thanks to the organizers of this year’s amazing conference and to everyone who came to my workshops or took the time to say hello in the lobby or a busy hallway. Being part of this community of writers is truly one of the great gifts of writing for kids!